‘Cancer gave me more than it took away’
by Alice Ramsey, The Pink Posse
(Editor’s note: Today The Newnan Times-Herald features a guest column from The Pink Posse’s Alice Ramsey as part of the focus on Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.)
My cancer journey began in July of 2005. One evening as I emerged from a shower, my husband Chris noticed an indention in my left breast. The following day I made my first trip to the Women's Center at Piedmont Fayette, where I had a biopsy.
Then came the news. Dr. Coursey Prah (the medical director of the Women's Imaging Center at the time) called me into her office. Dr. Prah sat down with my husband and myself and told us that the biopsy had revealed something we needed to look at. During the conversation she warned me that, according to the results, I would likely need a mastectomy.
At the time, I really wasn't absorbing the information. By the time I got home and was able to begin to process what I had just learned, I realized that this was going to be the fight of my life. I got out my mental boxing gloves and told myself, we will beat this.
“Alice does have fear but it doesn't last for long,” explained her sister-in-law, Jill Lassetter McKnight. "She went from ‘Oh my goodness’ to ‘How am I going to fix this?’ Throughout her process she assured everyone that it is going to be okay.”
My surgery was scheduled for the first of September and followed by chemotherapy six weeks later. My family and friends rallied around me. My faith in God was with me every step of the way. My dear friends and wonderful family would accompany me to my chemo sessions decked out in pink — the symbolic color for breast cancer. They came with pink boas, crowns, wands and t-shirts. Each time a different person would plan the "party-like” atmosphere. My group nickname themselves the “Pink Posse” vowing to run this disease out of town.
Each visit, laughter could be heard throughout the chemo room. I said, we were “laughing our hair off.”
My focus each visit with my oncologist, Dr. Johnathan Bender, was to have positive thoughts only. I remember his statement, “10 percent is my medicine and 90 percent is your positive attitude.” That comment rang a bell with me .
Meanwhile, throughout my treatment, there was something else going on. I am not sure what made me so keenly aware, but I could not help but notice that folks were strapped financially. Their family income had been almost cut in half due to the fact that they were now on disability. This touched my heart and the brain wheels started to turn. I could hear my dear mom's, (Totsie McKnight) comment, “We can't change the world, but we can change our corner of the world.”
I felt a deep sense of responsibility and I needed a way to help others who were going through chemotherapy. I researched the feasibility of setting up a fund through which charitable monies could be distributed to those in need and I discovered the Community Foundation of West Georgia. Thanks to the help of CFWG, by September of 2006, The Pink Posse of Ga became a reality. Its primary mission is to provide financial help by paying electric bills for local people going through cancer treatment. Currently, the organization is made up of 20-25 women who have different responsibilities from raising money to organizing the Pink Posse Walk. Lynda Dell Quick, proprietor of Barbie Beach and a member of the Pink Posse board of directors states, “We have different ways of thinking but we have one ‘common cause’ to help others in need."
It is amazing what these women do. I am the idea person, but these ladies keep the foundation running. The first fundraiser took place in September 2006. I went through my email and invited folks. The first year we had around 50 to 70 show up for the Pink Posse Walk and we raised $1,900. Since then, we are in our eighth year and this year the fundraiser created $26,000.
I just want people to have fun and be aware of this disease. In 2007, the whole community began to come on board to raise money for the Posse. East Coweta High School started their football “Pink Out.” It is now an annual event. Since the Pink Posse was founded, ECHS football has raised over $14,000.
Events like the “Pink Out” are now all over town. The Pink Posse Foundation belongs to the community. The community makes it work. I am amazed by their giving spirit. I always say, “no donation is too small.”
I am humbled to say that we have been able to help over 175 families in our area through your generosity. I would have never in my wildest dream believed that the Pink Posse would help so many.
I am also a strong advocate for cancer prevention. When I am not raising money for the Pink Posse, I am a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines. In 2007, I championed the idea for a pink uniform dress. Today, the pink uniform dress is a part of our uniform package and is worn in October. In support, Delta raises money for Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York. For every $50,000 that is raised through donations in the month of October, a doctor is sponsored for a year for Breast Cancer research.
On a personal note, I encourage everybody to get routine mammograms and other routine cancer tests. Early detection is the key. My family has been touched by and endured this disease. Paul McKnight Jr. (Ramsey’s father) passed away in 2009, my sister Jo Anne Underwood and my niece Monica Lovett as well as myself are surviving today. I want to be a walking advertisement to show that we can win against this disease. My passion for pink is never ending. I know we can champion this disease. My faith, my family and my friends help every day to encourage us to keep on fighting — we will find a cure in my lifetime. I have no doubt.
* * *
(Note: Alice and her husband of 27 years, Chris Ramsey, currently reside in Brooks, GA, but her beloved hometown is Senoia. She serves on many corporate boards in our community and on all she pledges to eradicate cancer. She is our very own "Pink Phenomenon.")